A new organization is preparing a campaign to win passage of a statewide referendum which would legalize the sale and use of marijuana in the state of Missouri. The group, which calls itself Show-Me Cannabis, is seeking passage of either a constitutional amendment or a new state law which would decriminalize possession and use of marijuana for any purpose.
Show-Me Cannabis has submitted proposed petitions to Secretary of State Robin Carnahan for certification by her office. Once those petitions have been approved, the group will be free to gather the signatures necessary to place the issue on the ballot.
If the group decides to pursue the constitutional amendment, they will need to obtain signatures from eight percent of the voters in six of Missouri's nine congressional districts. Should they choose the statewide referendum route, they would need signatures from five percent of the voters in six congressional districts.
Unlike referendums proposed in other states, the Missouri initiative would not limit marijuana use to so-called "medicinal" purposes. Marijuana would be removed from the list of controlled substances in Missouri, and it would be legal for anyone 21 years of age or older to smoke marijuana.
Effective in July of 2013, the State Department of Health and Senior Services would issue licenses to "cannabis establishments" who would have legal authority to "cultivate, prepare, manufacture, package, transport, and sell" marijuana, as well as marijuana accessories used for ingesting or inhaling the drug.
The proposal would prohibit the use of Missouri law enforcement personnel or state funds to enforce federal laws governing the use of marijuana. The federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 prohibits the sale or use of marijuana nationwide. The initiative would also prohibit local governments from establishing any "special zoning requirements" regulating those who grow, manufacture, process, or distribute marijuana.
Show-Me Cannabis supporters claim that marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco. They contend that "violent criminals have complete control of the marijuana market in a manner similar to the days of alcohol prohibition." In fact, marijuana supporters describe those who oppose the legalization of pot as "prohibitionists." They argue that the initiative will "return control of [marijuana] to government and private business, rather than criminal enterprise."
Mark Pedersen, described in press accounts as a "medical marijuana activist," says that "marijuana is safer than table sugar. I would be happy to argue with anybody who is a prohibitionist. The facts are on our side."
Dan Duncan, spokesman for the St. Louis chapter of the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, disagrees. "We would be very concerned that a movement like this would go even further to give a message to our kids that this is a safe, harmless drug when in fact it's not."
Duncan also expressed the common concern of many that marijuana is a gateway to use of more serious drugs. "It's not true that everybody that uses marijuana is gonna end up on cocaine or methamphetamine or heroin," Duncan adds. "However, it is true that most people that do those drugs, the drugs with the greater lethality, have all used drugs like marijuana first."
The Show-Me Cannabis group lists a post office box in Kansas City for their campaign address. The campaign director is Amber Langston, who served as the media liaison for Proposition 19, an initiative on the California ballot last November to legalize marijuana use in that state. Prop 19 failed by a 54% to 46% margin. Ultraliberal multibillionaire George Soros contributed $1 million to the Prop 19 campaign.
The Chairman of Show-Me Cannabis is Dan Viets, who has served as the Missouri State Coordinator for the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Viets also serves on the national Board of Directors of NORML, and has served as Chairman of the Mid-Missouri chapter of the ACLU.
Supporters of marijuana legalization are going straight to the voters on this initiative because they know there are no prospects whatsoever that it would be approved by the Missouri Legislature.
The damaging and stupefying individual and societal costs of marijuana use are well documented. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) reports that more than 376,000 individuals were admitted to hospital emergency rooms in 2009 for marijuana-related issues. You can read more about the dangers of this drug on the NCADD website by using this link: